Here is the closing sentence of Christopher Hitchens's review of three Kerry books in today's Sunday Times: "We are looking at a man who would make, or would have made, a perfectly decent peacetime president." Huh.
The implication, I take it, is that W. cuts a dashing figure as a wartime president, bravely rallying the forces of good as the bullets whistle past his slightly Alfred E. Newman-like ears. I know that Hitchens supports the ousting of Saddam Hussein. However, only an utter moral cripple could think that an occupational force that stands by while looters destroy the infrastructure of the country occupied, that withholds billions of dollars earmarked for that country's reconstruction, and that tortures those held in its military prisons, many of whom were innocent bystanders swept up in indiscriminate raids, marks its commander-in-chief as a competent wartime president.
Furthermore, Hitchens derives his skepticism concerning Kerry's abilities to function as a wartime president from a study of Kerry's biography, What was it in Bush's biography before 2000 that, in HItchens's view, foreshadowed Bush's stature as a modern-day Lincoln? Was it his ability to fight his DKE brothers at Yale for a place at the keg? His willingness to ignore the potentially harrowing consequences in deserting his post in the Air National Guard? His unshakeable confidence in his business decisions in the face of a track-record of heading a series of business failures? Perhaps it was his service as the head of a state with one of the weakest executives in the nation.
Reviewing Bush's record as a citizen, as a president, and as a commander-in-chief, one could be forgiven for reading Hitchens's review as revealing more about Hitchens than about Kerry's qualifications for the presidency. Hitchens seems to have allowed his trauma following 9/11 and his support for the Iraq invasion to blunt his critical faculties enough to prevent their interfering with his fantasies of a strong leader. I only hope a majority of the electorate don't comport with Karl Rove's expectations by doing the same.